• September 15, 2019

Reporter takes museum ghost tour, convinced it’s legit - Ocean City Sentinel: News

Reporter takes museum ghost tour, convinced it’s legit

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Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2019 11:04 am

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — I have grown up watching paranormal shows on television, being a horror movie fanatic, a lover of all things Halloween and honestly a total ghost believer. 

I have been on my fair share of haunted hayrides and other Halloween attractions, and I have even gone to the Eastern State Penitentiary twice. So when I saw an ad for the ghost tour at the Museum of Cape May County, I thought it may be something fun to do.

So on Friday, Aug. 9, I made sure my boyfriend and I had our reservations for 6 p.m. The tour takes only about 10 people and I wanted to be on that list. 

The entire day I was excited to attend, but I had two things going on in the back of my mind. One, with my luck, I would come back from this tour with some kind of freaky, demonic attachment. And, contrarily, it probably was going to be one of those theatrical, cheesy make-believes and a waste of money and time. 

Do not get me wrong, I believe in spirits and another side, or however you want to look at it, but I do believe. I just thought this tour was going to be more dramatised than real since I have never really encountered a, well, an encounter before. Although I wanted to believe really badly, I had my doubts going in.

After my boyfriend made the drive from Philadelphia after work, we drove through the pouring rain south down the Garden State Parkway. 

We arrived at the quaint white building at 504 Route 9 about 25 minutes later. We went inside and got our tickets from the friendly woman at the front desk and went on our way into the next room to meet the paranormal investigation team. 

The team is known as E.V.P. Paranormal Researchers of New Jersey. They told the intimate crowd about what they do and how they not only try to help the living, but the “disembodied” as well, however they can. 

The investigation team is led by the Conover family and a few of their close friends who share the same passion. The team volunteers at the museum pretty frequently and has become great friends with director Donna Matalucci and coordinator Debbie McGuire, much like the spirits of the house, but more on that later. The investigation team hosts these ghost tours only three to four times a year, so if you are interested in going, keep a lookout. 

Wendy Conover, the lead investigator, is sensitive to spirits and paranormal activity, she said. 

I thought to myself, “OK, let’s see,” and I definitely saw later on during the tour that the spirits in the house feel comfortable around her.

Before the tour started, they showed us the equipment they use — an EMF detector, divining rods, a thermometer reader and even more things that I have only seen on television. They also showed us images of some of their evidence captured in the Cresse-Holmes house on the museum property. A photograph pictured a little girl’s shadow walking behind someone on the stairs and several photos of reflections in mirrors of people who were not actually there. People also find feathers of all shapes, colors and sizes throughout the home, see imprints as if someone were sitting on the old quilts in the quilt room and the ghosts apparently do not like when things in the home are moved because those objects will move back again. Neat.

Matalucci and McGuire spend a lot of time in the house, as they tend to the upkeep and regularly lead historical tours. Of their experiences, Matalucci often has tingly legs in certain rooms of the house. Conover believes this is the children’s spirits since they are lower to the ground. Mcguire said she often gets freezing cold in certain portions of her body, especially down on her legs. This temperature change can be observed on their thermometers, she said. 

Now, onto my ghost tour experience. 

We headed into the house through the back and into the kitchen area, where a rifle that accidentally ended a life hung on the wall. It was in this room of the house that someone handed me an EMF detector that will light up when around electromagnetic fields. 

Going into this experience — I even said it out loud — I did not want to have much to do with it. As in, I wanted to have the least amount of interaction as possible, so that I did not come home with a freaky, demonic attachment, as I said before. But there I was holding the ghost-detecting equipment.

It was like a light switched on inside of me, though, after I was handed this small piece of equipment. All of a sudden I was really into this whole ghost-hunting thing. 

It was also in this same room that my legs started tingling. Wait, isn’t that what Matalucci also claimed? Right, thought so. 

Through the house we all followed Conover as she began to take out her divining rods. She let us all hold them before she started using them so that we could get a feel for how they work.

When I tell you that there is no possible way that she could have purposefully made these things move how they did, I am being drop dead serious (no pun intended). 

She began asking the child spirits that she is familiar with whether they were there with us. The rods crossed for “Yes.” She began to ask who exactly was there by their assigned names that they seem to respond to. Margaret and Nate were in the room with us. Asked if Fred or Anna were present, the rods separated for “No.” 

In the next room, I got a little frightened, I am not ashamed to admit. If you saw that amount of medicine bottles, old eyeglasses, microscopes, pills, sharp instruments and the barber’s chair (who was also your dentist!) with fingernail marks in the sides, you would have been scared too. 

That was the easy part. Conover then took out her divining rods once again and asked questions of the spirits in the room. Someone asked if there were a physician in the room with us. The rods crossed for “Yes.” Conover asked if any of the physician’s equipment was in the room. (Spirits can be attached to items and even people, not just places). The rods turned all the way around (literally impossible to force unless you are a ghost, I guess) and pointed to several medicine bottles behind Conover.

Now I was intrigued. Conover asked if there were any of the physician’s instruments in the glass display case in the middle of the room. The rods did nothing. She squatted down to be at level with the case and the rods moved toward the optometry instruments. 

We then went upstairs, a hot spot for people being touched and for apparitions to be seen. As we ascended the stairs to the bedrooms in which the spirits in the home once lived, I noticed something very peculiar. Normally heat rises. In the summertime heat, when I ascend a staircase the air gets increasingly hotter. But by the time we reached the children’s room, I was nearly shivering. 

In this room, clad with creepy dolls, there was not much activity at first. That was until the lamp in the corner of the room turned off. Someone else’s EMF detector was going off. The EMF detectors rest with one green light lit and when an energy force is around all the lights will light up to red, showing the highest amount of energy. That is exactly what the EMF detector was doing.

McGuire, who came along on the tour, was also experiencing one of her cold moments on one side of her body. My boyfriend, who was in charge of the thermometer, pointed it at her and confirmed a 10-degree difference from her head to her arm, where she said she felt like she was being touched. 

At this point, I was a little spooked. I then had the idea to crouch down a bit to get at a child’s level to see if my EMF detector would spike like the rest. There it was, flashing all the way up to red.

I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to want to speak to these kids and make them feel better. I have no idea why, but I fought the urge and remained somewhat normal. 

In another room, Conover placed an electronic toy cat on the floor and stepped away from it. We were not allowed in that room because the floor was not in the best condition for a group of people to be standing on. The toy cat was covered head to toe in sensors. If it was touched, it would meow. If there was movement around it, it would walk toward that movement. From the room we were standing in, we could hear the cat. After Conover returned to us, we started hearing it meow and walk across the floor.

Lastly, we went into the favorite room of Margaret, one of the ghost children. This room had a super-old music box in it that Margaret particularly loves. They call her the dancing ghost because whenever the music box is played, she will make the divining rods sway to the rhythm. Sure enough, Margaret danced for us. Conover even let us hold the divining rods while Margaret danced to prove she was not faking it for us.

The paranormal research team was beyond kind and helpful in answering any questions we had and thoroughly informative for the duration of the tour. 

I am so glad I went on this tour because now I want to go on many more in the historic town of Cape May. I am delighted to say that this tour was the real deal and an amazing experience for anyone who is interested in the supernatural. I would recommend it to anyone who is skeptical because they will see firsthand that neither Matalucci nor McGuire, nor the research team, could make any of it up. 

For more information, call the team at (609) 551-6084 or the museum at (609) 465-3535.

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